Thursday, April 30, 2015

CthulhuCon and Zombie Lovecraft

Earrings
The annual horror convention known as CthulhuCon was this previous weekend, and it was a wonderful time. Or I guess I should say that half of it was last weekend, since the film festival part of it won't happen for another few months. But that doesn't change that it was a great time.

There was an art competition, during which I discovered that it can be quite fascinating to watch artists at their work. That actually surprised me. I'm not familiar with all of the artists in the photo below, but on the far right is Liv Rainy-Smith, who I wrote about a couple years ago when I first discovered her wood cuttings. I am still in love with her stuff. I have one of her pieces of a sea serpent (I always think it looks like a dragon) next to my bed.

Artists hard at work.

Speaking of art, I found one particular painting I so wanted to buy. It shows a tentacle reaching up out of the ocean grasping the TARDIS, and the 11th Doctor is sitting on top of that blue box fishing. I love it so much because I could definitely see that scene happening if there was an episode of the Doctor versus Cthulhu. It was a piece done by Lee Moyer, an artist new to me, and I was able to track it down online here.

There were also author readings, panels on subjects related to horror, cool merchandise...I may have gotten a little excitable about earrings, I admit. As evidence, please reference the first photograph showing four different pairs of mostly horror themed earrings which came home with me.

We also had a visit from the H.P. Lovecraft himself, back from the dead. (Ok, it's an actor named Leeman Kessler, but I'm going to pretend that he's a zombie Lovecraft.) In his new life he has had to rethink his means of living, and now specializes in offering advice and making YouTube videos. He's so entertaining that I set out to find a video of his to share.



It was definitely a great weekend. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sleepy Times

The page in question
"I've realized that I've come to regard sleep in the same way that I sometimes view eating: 'Didn't I just do this recently? Do I really have to do it again so soon? There are so many better ways to use my time.' Obviously, this isn't a healthy relationship. So now the question... how do I fix this?"

The above is from my journal/sketchbook, and over the words I drew a moon and stars.

I've struggled with sleep for much of the last year, and it hasn't been the usual insomnia that I sometimes deal with. This time it seems to have been a matter of my circadian rhythm switching to nocturnal, so that it was pretty much impossible for me to get to sleep at anything approaching a reasonable time no matter what my plans for the next day were. Therapy appointment in the morning? I'd go in on a few hours of sleep, if I was lucky. Date day with my boyfriend? I'd fall asleep on him. Class in the afternoon? I'd at least have a bit more sleep for that, thankfully. And when the anxiety was bad I wouldn't even have caffeine to help me stay awake, since anxiety and stimulants are an unpleasant combination.

There have been times of my sleep schedule being pretty normal. But that's not a matter of me using self discipline, it's a matter of my circadian rhythm conveniently resetting itself. It's not something I seem to have control over, which I try not to think about. Currently it's what I want it to be...or so I pretend to myself. In the past week I've been edging towards staying up later again, and waking up in the afternoon. I tell myself I can easily fix it, if I really want to. That's what I tell myself.

A number of things have been contributing to this, I think. Of course there are the anxiety and depression. When I've got anxiety it can be easier to sleep during the day, since the light is comforting and scary things can hide in the dark. Not that I was always aware of this being a reason...it took some thinking to realize it. And with both anxiety and depression it can be unpleasant to be alone with myself, which is pretty unavoidable when I'm sleeping or falling asleep.

Then there's the feeling that I haven't done enough in the day, and that if I stay up just a little longer I can actually do something productive. Or, that sleep is just a nuisance that gets in the way of actually doing things...but would I do anything? No, other than probably spend more time online to keep me out of my head. Hey, it's been dark and scary in there, often enough. Why would I want to be alone with myself?

And for all I know, there could be other things contributing to my sleep problems that I haven't yet identified.

That said, I am better than I was a couple months ago. I just hope that I keep improving, both where my sleep is concerned and in my overall mood.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fur Babies

I couldn't resist sharing some photos.

Josie was on my bed, and when I lay down next to her we were snuggled up pretty close together. Then as I was fiddling with my phone, Kokopelle decided that he wanted in on the cuddles. And not only did he lay down on top of me, he also got on top of Josie.

Sweet kitten and puppy

Gotta love them.

Ditto

It was difficult to get a good photo, but you can see that he's lying across her rear end. And she just lay there allowing it. I was pretty amazed.

He has also claimed my desk

After some time of my desk (and bedroom...) being really messy I finally did some cleaning. This has resulted in Kokopelle finding my desk a very comfortable place to hang out now, despite there being a perfectly good cat tree next to it. A cat tree which, as it happens, he's sitting on as I write this.

So, yeah, just wanted to share some photos.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Imagine

Imagine that you're in a wide open meadow, and it's night. Surrounding you are wildflowers, wonderfully scented, and at the edges of the meadow are old evergreens.

You lay down so that the flowers stand above you, and you look up. Above you there are no clouds, and no moon. You can see as far as anything exists, as the evergreens linger at the edges of your vision. There are stars, galaxies, planets...nebulas...more colors than you can imagine, and more of everything than you would have thought possible. And yet, it's still a small sliver of what exists in this universe.

One could feel very small and insignificant at this sight and realization. But imagine that instead, you feel happy beyond words. And fortunate. Happy to be part of Creation, and fortunate that you are able to help Create a very small part of one planet in this amazing universe.

Imagine.

... ... ...

This more or less describes something that came to me during a meditation recently, and I wanted to share it as best that I can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Getting My Singing Fix

I suppose the last time I sang with a group was in the school choir, back when I was a music major. That was maybe four years ago. Since then I've missed it, and have been saying that I'll rejoin a chorus again. Someday. Eventually. Once I'm out of school.

...but really, why does it have to wait? Where did I get the idea in my head that I have to put some of my passions on hold?

Last evening I went to a song circle. I don't know that it qualifies as a chorus, it isn't learning music for an eventual performance...it's just people having fun singing together.

Everyone receives handouts with song lyrics in them, then we go around the group and everyone (or as many as we have time for) gets to choose a song and lead it. If they want. There's also the option to have someone else lead our chosen song or to pass entirely. Some people also brought their instruments, and I was beyond delighted to see someone with a twelve string guitar. Those are awesome.

It was all older songs, attracting an older crowd. I felt a bit out of place until I saw a couple other people about my own age. Then I could have laughed when one of the white haired women sitting next to me asked if there were any songs in the handouts that are popular these days, and I found myself explaining that I mostly don't know what's popular these days. Yeah...I guess I'm a bit weird with music.

I had a good time, realized just how much I've missed singing with others, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and remembered how easy it is for me to fake it when I don't know the song. If you can guess where the tune is likely to go, it's sometimes possible to sing along even when you're completely unfamiliar with a song. Or, I sometimes can, anyways.

I've also been realizing lately that...not sure how to really explain it, but I've been holding my voice in for a few years when I sing. Not really singing at my full potential, or what I can really do. Singing in a group provides a safe place to really relax and just sing, since I'm one of quite a few in there. I hope that makes sense, I'm not sure if I explained it well.

It was a good time, and I plan to return. Someday I'll join up again with a chorus where we learn songs with the aim of a performance (yes, I know there's that "someday" again...), but for now I'm happy to have found a place that I can sing with others.

Oldies Music Picture

Monday, April 13, 2015

I want...

I've mentioned before that I've got a new dairy/sketchbook. It's amazing in that it not only helps me figure out how to express myself, but it also helps me think this through and figure myself out. One particular page was all about me figuring out what I want in life. This page isn't particularly artsy, but it helps me get a look at my thought process.

I want...

To start with is the question: How do I find out what I WANT in life? From there I realized that there are various things to think about.

What do I love?
What do I want to change in the world?
What makes me happy?
Who am I?
What are my passions?
Think about my strengths
What are my dreams?

None of those are really answers to my original question, but they're things I need to think about before I can really know what I want in life.

After sitting on it for at least a few days (I bounce around through the pages, and the only dates I keep are on the first page in the form of what months I spend creating the journal) I started to come up with things to put under I WANT. Though, I now realize that saying I NEED may have been a bit more accurate.

LOVE
CREATIVITY
PLAYFULNESS
GROWTH
BOOKS
UNDERSTANDING
FRIENDSHIP
LEARNING

I suppose nothing on this page is as specific as "I want ______ as a career" (I cover that on a later page), but it seems a good place to start.

This may not be the final version of the page. Actually I'm sure it isn't, since I'm looking at it now and realizing there's something else that belongs on it. How to express it though...that's the question. And my problem.

Have you ever made a list of wants/needs? What sort of things were on it?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Herbs!

So...I may be a little bit overexcited about having herb plants in my bedroom. I should have done this ages ago.

Life finds a way...

Much to my surprise, the lemon balm that I got from the backyard managed to find an air pocket inside the jar I planted in for its roots to start growing leaves. That plant is determined to grow in any way and in any place possible. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised since it's related to mint, and that will also take over given half a chance (which I discovered by accident a few years ago). Maybe it'll sound odd when I say I admire plants, but I do admire those that have a knack for surviving...even though some of them are called weeds.

Mint with opinions...

The first time I tried watering my peppermint plant was a bit...messy. I guess the dirt wasn't keen on soaking up the water.

Neither the mint or the lemon balm hang out on my desk regularly. The first was just easier to photograph on my desk, and I set the mint on my desk when it was creating watery problems for me.

Thirsty Kokopelle

I set down my watering pitcher (ok, a cup measure, but whatever...) and Kokopelle decided that it looked like a good water bowl. I decided not to argue.

Sunflowers!

I've generally been more enthusiastic about herbs than about flowers, but when I happened across a cheap kit for growing sunflowers I couldn't resist. They're growing rather nicely so far...and will probably need to be moved into a larger pot at some point, though they're supposed to be small so I don't know how what size pot will be needed...basically, I don't know what the heck I'm doing. But they're doing fine so far, so I guess I'm doing well with them so far.


Time for thyme!

...no, I'm not the slightest bit sorry for that pun. I know it's bad and I doubt I'm the first to make it, but I can find no room for remorse in myself.

It's winter/English thyme, and as I understand it it's one that doesn't need direct sunlight to do well. It seems happy enough so far. :)

And yes, I do like dragons. Did you guess that from my dragon lamp that the thyme is sitting next to? And yes, that's also Dracula in the background. My boyfriend won it because he's a horror geek and then gave it to me.

Oregano!

Greek oregano, hanging out on my bookshelf. Another one that seems to be happy in the shade. At least, it's thriving so far.

There are also Cerridwen and Brighid dolls made by Dancing Goddess Dolls. I adore both of them, and having them plus the oregano next to my religious/spiritual section of my bookshelf seems to cheer things up.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fun Times

In writing about the oceanography class recently I remembered a fun craft project we did to illustrate how one can measure the angle of a star, the sun...or anything, for that matter. It's as simple as making a protractor, labeling the degrees, hanging a string with a weight on it, looking along the 90° angle...and then looking at where the string has fallen.

The first time I made one of these was at a Girl Scout day camp, I believe it was part of the Lewis and Clark.

The Girl Scout one

The one I made in school looks a little different. It was made from a paper plate rather than a printout with the degrees already printed on it, as the Girl Scout one was.

The one from school

...and I realize now that in this and the last few posts I've been aiming for a more light hearted note than what's really going on in my head. As of writing this (April 8th...I've scheduled a couple other posts I've written to go up first) I'm doing much better than I have in a while, but it's still a struggle to do something as simple as walk up to the store by myself to get something. Still, at least I'm managing that these days. I guess it's just easier to write about good times than about what I'm dealing with now, and I'm not sure how to strike the right balance between honesty and managing to not make my blog a depressing read.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pride Parade '14

This one has been lurking in my draft folder for a while...the date on it was June 18th of last year. I think I hesitated to post it because I was unsure how much I really wanted to share about the classmate who refused to allow same sex couples at his end of year party. I'm leaving that in because it was something I was mulling over at the time, I've mentioned it since then anyway, and I had a point I wanted to make that was relevant to Pride week and about not jumping to assumptions about one's beliefs regarding LGBT individuals based on their religion.

... ... ...

Last weekend I went to my first Pride Parade. I wish I'd been to one sooner. I took a lot of photos, way more than would be reasonable to put in a blog post, but I've managed to narrow it down to sharing just a few.


Brides on a motorcycle? Pretty awesome if you ask me.


I found this rainbow of balloons a little more amusing than I probably should have, since they had to stretch it out to fit under the street lights.


I wonder how many times they had to do this during the parade.


I was quite happy to see bis in the parade. Bi Brigade is a group I hadn't known about, but after some minor research I think I would have noticed them in the past few months if I hadn't been so focused on homework.


Side view, with the bi colors of pink, purple, and blue. :) There were also others throughout the parade with bi signs.


Ok, so, I may have gotten a little over excited about this band. As in, I was a lot excited about this band. I admit, I love drums. And they were surprisingly loud, too. Louder than a bagpipe band, I think.



Yeah, I was excited enough to find a YouTube video of them to share.


There was a Rocky Horror Picture Show float with the unfortunate couple walking behind...


...and a certain mad scientist with his creation on the float.


There were quite a few churches in the parade, but I was particularly interested to see Catholics for marriage equality, given a recent Facebook drama that I unfortunately was sort of part of.

A Catholic classmate was planning a party, and when someone asked if same sex couples would be welcome he said no. A couple of us (sort of publicly) stated that we would not attend due to this, and got called out for it. We were told off for humiliating the classmate and our actions were even compared to hate crimes, but what made me uncomfortable was the assumption that we were doing it for political reasons. I eventually had to point out that it's actually personal for me because I'm bi, and that I would feel unwelcome given the rules. This explanation was my second and final contribution to the discussion, and I was interested to see that people got a little more polite when they realized an LGBT person was involved. [Edit: In retrospect, I've got to say that part of the reason for the conversation calming down may have also been to do with those who were angriest leaving the argument.]

One of the criticisms leveled against us that we should have known this person's views already since he's Catholic. Well, given that I saw several Catholic churches in the parade, I'm not going to assume every Catholic I meet is homophobic. Besides which, we attend a Catholic University where I just took a queer studies class taught by a gay man.

Some may ask why I'm sharing this story, and some classmates in particular might ask that if they find this blog. I just want to make a point that, even though some might use a particular religion as an excuse to be anti-LGBT, I cannot assume everyone of that religion is unable to accept LGBT individuals. And given the number of churches I saw in the parade, I think it's a good point to bring up in a discussion of Pride week.


I was happy to see that my old community college, PCC, was in the parade. You can see someone carrying a trans flag, though it isn't very visible in this particular photo. There were a few of those flags throughout the parade.

The whole thing was two hours long, which surprised me. I've never been to one that lasted more than maybe half an hour! My feet hurt by the end, and my legs also ached, since I'm not used to standing for such a long time these days. But it was totally worth it.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Conversations with Josie

"It's only the mailman, hush up."

"Ok, that's the USP guy."

"I've really no idea what you're barking at this time..."

"It's only me! Stop barking!"

"Yes, it's the scary mailman. He's terrifying and horrible, but you've scared him off. Thank you, you've kept us safe."

"Yes, I hear the sirens, there's no need to howl..."

"Fine, your howling is cute."

"Are you barking at a squirrel? You're barking at a squirrel."

"I know other dogs are barking, but there's no need for you to join in."

"Oh my gosh you're so cute! Yes you are, yes you are!"

Josie likes to bark. A lot. Talking to her can sometimes calm her down though, which is why I discuss her barking habits so often with her. On the up side, at least her howls are cute.

Josie

She has this bit of fur on the top of her head that can be turned into a mohawk of sorts, it's kind of fun to play with on occasion. And dangit, my bed just had to be unmade when I took this photo...oh well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chocolate and Sand

Chocolate and sand. Two things that probably shouldn't go together, but somehow I'll make that work in this post. :)

I was doing a bit of cleaning and stumbled across some things from my Oceanography class last term. I'd meant to write about that class, but somehow got sidetracked and then forgot.

It's one of the few science classes I've taken in college, but it was definitely one of my favorites classes. I love English classes where I can sit back and think about stories we've read, or dig into poetry, but this...this had me on the edge of my seat. Literally. No, I'm not planning to drop English for studying the ocean, it was just a different kind of fun that was new to me.

Oh yeah, and it didn't hurt that the professor used chocolate to teach us. Yep, that's right. Chocolate.

The chocolate was in the form of...maybe a Snickers bar? He handed one out to each of us, and in explaining about earthquakes and the different faults that happen he had us break the candy in different ways so that we could see what he was talking about. You know, like shoving one half to the side after the initial break, or pushing one side up...I still had a hard time remembering what each one was called, but a year later that lesson is still easy to remember.

And, of course, we got to eat the chocolate after. Possibly the most delicious lesson I've ever had.

Sand

The professor also gave us sand. It turns out that an easy way to look at sand is to put hole punches in a small card, then trap the sand between tape. He gave us three samples...one was from the Fort Stevens area of the Columbia river, another was from the Oregon Dunes, and he was unsure about the last sand but his best guess was that it's tropical.

I don't think I'd ever given any thought to how coarse sand is, or isn't, but comparing the sands side by side it's pretty obvious that the Oregon Dune sand wasn't as coarse as the others. Turns out that this is because that just happens when sand is windblown, and that water actually protects sand and keeps it coarse.

When I was younger I loved to visit lighthouses. I still want to see more if I get the chance, but I think I need to also collect a sand sample next time I'm visiting a beach. It's surprisingly fun to compare different samples of sand to each other.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Window Garden

On Tuesday I walked to a grocery store to see if they might have any plants that I'd want for my window herb garden. I found a lovely mint plant, and when I walked there again today I came away with rosemary and sweet marjoram plants.

This might sound like nothing, just something that anyone could do without thinking twice about it. But due to my fear of going out and about by myself, and sometimes even of going out when I've got someone with me (agoraphobia..fun), this was actually something of a victory for me. I've also found that a breathing exercise can help me when I'm out and about: breathe in for two steps, hold the breath for two steps, breath out for two steps, hold that for two steps, breath in again for two steps...and so on.

I'm still not exactly doing great, but I don't know when I was last doing this well. And it's strange, but it sometimes takes some improvement for me to realize exactly how bad off I've been.

But on to the window garden! It's what I really wanted to share, along with a few other plants, but I found that I also wanted to note a bit of the progress I'm making.

Herbs and cat

I'm not sure if I was more photographing Kokopelle or the plants. Either way, we've got both. Plus a lovely Gallifrey poster that's at the foot of my bed.

The herbs here are peppermint, sweet marjoram (that's a new one to me but I love the smell), rosemary, and aloe vera. Fun fact: I know how to spell aloe vera, but can never remember how to actually say the darned name. I'm not sure how many times I've had to ask the correct pronunciation. It's one of a few words I have that trouble with.

Ditto

Again, herbs and kitty. This time you can also see the lemon balm on the left. I couldn't find that one at the store, but there's a lot of it in the backyard so I found a bit of it to bring inside. Its smell reminds me of Camp Mountaindale, where I spent a week of day camp every summer for years. I have happy memories of that place.

But now, getting away from herbs, though still to do with green growing things...

Scifi madness

I also got some air plants that hang upside down from shells. They either look like jellyfish or like some madness out of a scifi story...or maybe even like they belong in a horror story. Whichever way, I figured they'd go well paired with the exploding TARDIS poster that's over my computer.

Also, the hand knit octopus...that was part of a care package someone put together for me last summer when the anxiety really hit me hard. My chair was supposed to be a temporary place for Mr. Octopus, but he's so happy there that it seems to have become his permanent home. 

Moss! ...and fairy statue

Then there's a bit of watery moss. It's happy in water, and floats or sinks depending on its mood. I figured it might look nice on my desk. I think I like it because it's odd, and I may just like having odd things around. This may also explain why I got the mad jellyfish previously mentioned.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spring Joys

Early spring is my favorite time of year. There's just something about how it feels. But I also love all of spring, and I've got photos to share. :)

Beginnings

The pear tree in the front yard is mostly past flowering, and you can see the very beginnings of a pear. Someday this will be yummy. For now it's tiny and green.

[Edit 4/3/2015: I don't know what I was thinking...this is the cherry tree, not the pear tree.]

Blossoms

The apple tree in the back yard, however, is still blooming. 

Purple somethings...

I'm not sure what these flowers are, but they're pretty. (Ignore the dumpster in the background...neighbors are doing lots of remodeling and apparently need a dumpster.)

I guess one thing I love about spring is that she does as she darned well pleases, which we see reflected in the weather. In the last two days we've had pouring rain, sun, hail, wind...I'm surprised we didn't have a thunder storm at some point. Something in me delights at all this.